17 May 2008

Vegetable Garden Pests Part 1

This morning I found we have a big problem. The gnats and aphids situation was out of control. There were swarms of gnats in front of our door and in front of our neighbor’s door. At a glance, you could easily see hundreds of tiny pests living in my vegetable garden. I quickly started spraying the homemade bug repellent I made last week. That worked for the moment, but what to do about this soil that is just covered in aphids. Gross! Yesterday I purchased some Sea Kelp by a company called Organics Rx from the Living Green store in Culver City. Per the instructions, I added a capful into each can of water I used. I doused the plants. Some websites say lots of water is good to get rid of pests and others say that the pests thrive in wet soil. Today I am going with the notion that more water is better. The sea kelp is more for the plants than it is pest control. I went online and found several non-toxic options, mostly bug traps that are sticky. In my quest to hammer out this pest problem quickly and to avoid having anything shipped I quickly got in my car and went to the nearest nursery, Lucky Plant, which is about a 5 minute drive away. It occurred to me that I probably should've biked there. The salesman tried to get me to buy some toxic sprays and basically told me I should go somewhere else if I wanted a product without chemicals. Ugh – why are people so difficult? At this point I wonder if organic gardening is worth it. I push on. Glad to not be on my bike at this point, I drove to another nursery, which is about 10 minutes away from the first. Merrihew’s Sunset Nursery in Santa Monica has a very friendly staff. I like to buy from them. The salesman actually laughed at me when I told him I had some homemade bug repellent. Considering I was there looking for something that will actually work long term, I don’t blame him. He also pointed me in the direction of a spray. I bought Safer Brand’s Yard & Garden Insect Killer. It is made with Pyrethrum and is Omri Listed, which means it is approved for organic gardening. The salesman told me not to spray until the evening because it could damage the plants. Honestly, this situation is so bad that I feel getting rid of everything might not be a bad idea. It feels about 10 degrees cooler in the courtyard of my building compared to the air at the nursery, so I’ve decided to spray everything right now. I’m sure that every gardener in the world would tell you not to spray your plants with anything, water or insect killer, at high Noon during a heat wave. Oh well. I’m taking the chance. I sprayed everywhere – in the air, on the soil, on the crop. I mulched a bit as well, which brought a few worms to the surface and hopefully unearthed some of the aphids that were living in my organic soil. I have a good feeling about this. I was really discouraged this morning and now I feel a lot better. The directions on the bottle are to apply solution every 7-10 days. I’ll use my homemade spray during the intervening days and hope this is a cure. Even though I have been back inside for an hour, I literally feel like I have bugs crawling in my hair and on my skin. Good times.

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